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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 10/25/96 -- Vol. 15, No. 17
Table of Contents
Unless otherwise stated, all meetings are in the Middletown cafeteria Wednesdays at noon.
DATE TOPIC (no meetings scheduled) Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.
MT Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 908-957-5619 firstname.lastname@example.org HO Chair: John Jetzt MT 2E-530 908-957-5087 email@example.com HO Librarian: Nick Sauer HO 4F-427 908-949-7076 firstname.lastname@example.org Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell MT 2D-536 908-957-6330 email@example.com Factotum: Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433 908-957-2070 firstname.lastname@example.org Backissues available at http://www.mt.lucent.com/~ecl/MTVOID/backissues.html or http://sf.www.lysator.liu.se/sf_archive/sf-texts/MT_Void/. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
URL of the week:
URL of the week: http://www.scifiweekly.com/. Science Fiction Weekly, another on-line science fiction magazine. [-ecl]
So why are we going to Japan?
I think it is fair to say that the first foreign country about which I felt a real curiosity was Japan. Why Japan? Well like much else in my life it came out of my interest in science fiction. When I was seven years old my father took my brother and me to see a double feature of RODAN, THE FLYING MONSTER and THE RETURN OF DRACULA. I must have seen other monster movies at that time, and from them it was natural to me that monster movies took place in the United States. What few I had seen took place in not very exotic places. It seemed odd that RODAN would take place in another country and the characters would all be from that country. I probably commented on this and was told that the film was Japanese. It was made in Japan. Now this started to bother me. I now knew there were monster movies I might never see because they were being made in other countries and I could not see them and would not understand them if I did since didn't know the language. Somewhere near where I lived I had heard that there was a Polish movie theater that showed only Polish movies. This started to prey on my mind. There were probably people watching Polish monster movies and I would never get to see these films because of the culture barrier. I decided all counties must make monster movies for their own people and I was missing something really good. That was how my young mind worked. I know now that many countries do make good films for their own people. Perhaps they are not monster movies, but some of the best films I know of are foreign films. But from about the age of seven or eight I have felt that there must be real treasures in Japanese culture, if only you can get by the language barrier. For a long time after seeing RODAN, THE FLYING MONSTER and a little later THE MYSTERIANS when I heard Japan the first thing I thought of is that this is a country that makes science fiction and monster movies. There must be more interesting over there. Not that I heard very much about Japan in school. We learned about the continents, but very little about Japan. Perhaps a little more about China, but generally our education about Asia was weak. That may have been for the best. What you learn about in school is forever a dull chore.
I must have been about twelve years old, maybe as much as fifteen, when I was in an art museum and I saw something very unexpected. I saw a suit of armor, at least it looked like armor, and it had a face-plate. And coming out of the face-plate was a brushy mustache. I thought of suits of armor in very functional terms. It seemed strange to me that anybody would bother to put a face on a suit of armor, much less put a mustache on the face. But there it was looking at me. Well, this turned out to be samurai armor. And sometimes there was a face on the armor. Maybe there was more of interest about Japan than just monster movies. Years later when TV broadcast SHOGUN, a lot of people suddenly discovered that samurai stories were pretty nifty. I think by that point I had seen a few samurai films like THE SEVEN SAMURAI. Again I was a little ahead of the pack in recognizing that Japanese films could be interesting to people outside of Japan. As I got older I found more and more that was fascinating and enigmatic about Japanese culture. Japanese culture seems so different from any other culture. The European cultures I have seen are different from each other, but in many ways they are also similar. These days it seems that Japan has picked up a lot from Western culture. At least superficially and on a high level the Japanese have a much more comprehensible culture than, say, the Chinese or the Indians. Still they have a society that is full of cultural assumptions different from those in the West and that is the best reason to travel to a place.
So this year we are finally going to travel to Japan. We have tried packaged tours twice before only to have them canceled. This year we are just going to plan the trip on our own and guide ourselves. [-mrl]
TREKS NOT TAKEN
by Steven R. Boyett (Sneaker Press/Midnight Graffiti, ISBN 1-882813-05-7, 1996, US$12.95) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):
"Call me irresponsible. Some years ago--the stardate is unimportant now--the irresistible motivation of several outstanding warrants and the certainty of my impecunious nature, caused me to enlist about a Federation starship, for just as some men hold the briny Sea in their hearts, I have empty Space in my head."
That's just one sample from this book of twenty selections, showing how some famous authors might have written STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, had Hollywood waved the money in front of them.
My only real complaint with this is that Boyett concentrated more on modern authors than on the authors of the so-called Western Canon. I would have liked to see Shakespeare's "Merry Ensigns of Windsor," or Jane Austen's "Mansfield Trek" or Charles Dickens's "Data Copperfield" or even George Eliot's "Romulan." (And I would have thought that "The Brothers Data" by Dostoyevsky was an obvious entry.) But we do have Melville, Joyce, Hemingway, and Conrad. We also have Rice, Clancy, Vonnegut, and Dr. Seuss.
I read only the stories for those authors with whom I had some familiarity (which was about three-quarters of them). And for these Boyett captured the style remarkably well, considering the wide range they cover. For anyone who enjoys reading a wide variety of authors and styles, I highly recommend this book. If you can't find it in your local bookstore, it can be ordered from Mark Ziesing (P. O. Box 76, Shingletown CA 96088, http://www.ziesing.com).
And as Boyett himself said, "I don't think [these] make any less sense than last year's Star Trek season." [-ecl]
Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 908-957-5619 email@example.com
Quote of the Week:
It is better to be quotable than to be honest. -- Tom Stoppard